In his homily for the concluding Mass for World Youth Day in Lisbon, Pope Francis calls on young people to shine, to listen, and to be unafraid.
By Christopher Wells
At the concluding Mass for this year’s World Youth Day, Pope Francis echoed the words of the Apostles who witnessed the Transfiguration of Christ on the Mount: “It is good for us to be here!”
At the same time, he challenged the young people to ask themselves, “What will we take back with us to the valley of our daily lives?” Drawing on the day’s Gospel, the Holy Father proposed three verbs: to shine, to listen, and to be unafraid.
The Gospel reading recounts the event of the Transfiguration, where Jesus appeared to His three closest disciples with His face shining like the sun and His clothes gleaming white, precisely in order to prepare his disciples for the dark hours they would face at Gethsemane and Calvary.
“We, too, need light, a burst of light that is hope to face so much darkness that assails us in life,” the Pope said. That light, he explained, “is Jesus, because He is the light that does not go out, the light that shines even in the night.” It is Jesus, he said, “that enlightens our eyes, enlightens our heart, enlightens our mind, enlightens our desire to do something in life, always with the light of the Lord.”
At the same time, he warned that “we do not become luminous when we focus the spotlight on ourselves.” Instead, “We become luminous, we shine, when, welcoming Jesus, we learn to love like Him. To love like Jesus: that makes us luminous, that leads us to do works of love.”
Continuing his reflection on the Transfiguration, Pope Francis noted the words of God the Father to the Apostles, commanding them to listen to His beloved Son. “It’s all here,” the Pope said, “all that is to be done in life: Listen to HIm. Listen to Jesus, every secret is there.”
He explained that if someone is unsure about what God is saying to them, they can read the Gospels to hear what Jesus says and listen to what He says in their hearts. “For He has words of eternal life for us. He reveals that God is the Father, and He is love. He teaches us the path to love.
Be not afraid
Finally, the Holy Father reminded his youthful listeners of the last words of Jesus to his disciples during the Transfiguration: “Get up, and do not be afraid!”
The Pope acknowledged the fears of young people, who “have great dreams” but fear they might not come true, who may be tempted by pessimism or discouragement, or who feel that their efforts are not enough.
But he encouraged them, saying it is good for them to want to change the world, to fight for justice and peace. The world needs you, he said, “like the earth needs rain.” And he invited each of them to repeat silently in their hearts, “Do not be afraid.”
“Dear young people,” the Pope said continued, “I would like to look into the eyes of each one of you and say to you: Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid.”
He assured them that Jesus Himself is looking out on them: “What is more, I tell you something very beautiful: It is no longer me, it is Jesus Himself who is looking at you, at this moment. He is looking at us. He knows you, He knows the heart of each one of you, He knows the life of each one of you. He knows your joys, He knows your sorrows, your successes, and your failures. He knows your hearts, and He says to you today, here, in Lisbon, at this World Youth Day, ‘Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Take heart, do not be afraid.”